China’s Rise Driving Hollywood Interest in Asia

As China grows as an international power, Hollywood is trying to push further into China’s film market by making films that focus on Asia as a theme. This report comes after Xi Jinping’s promise of making the Chinese market more accessible to Hollywood filmmakers. The Hollywood Reporter reports:

“Studio executives are definitely turning toward Asia, and China in particular,” said producer Tracey Trench (The Pink Panther, Ever After).

“There are only so many stories to tell and Hollywood studios are always looking for new and interesting ways to tell them. China, being relatively unfamiliar, is still interesting,” said Glenn Berger, writer/producer at DreamWorks Animation. “Then there are films like Kung Fu Panda [which Berger co-wrote], that could only be set in China.”

Addressing a question about how Asian filmmakers should approach making movies in English for global audiences, the panelists pointed out that it was only a matter of time before the U.S. was no longer the dominant worldwide market, and barriers to non English-language productions will be lower.

“Kung Fu Panda was incredibly well received in China. Then there was a second reaction from China, which was ‘why couldn’t we have made this film, why did it take Westerners to do this?` Which was both interesting and satisfying in many ways,” said Berger.

China has the potential to become one of the largest film markets in the world. While there has already been an agreement to give China access to more Disney films through their partnership with YOU on demand, more Hollywood filmmakers are seeking partnerships with Chinese companies. The San Francisco Chronicle adds:

For the last decade, China has allowed only 20 foreign films a year — mostly big-budget Hollywood fare — to get national distribution. But it opened the door a little more last month when it changed the rules to allow in up to 14 more films a year as long as they are made in 3-D or for the big-screen Imax format. The foreign share of ticket sales will rise to 25 percent, up from 13.5 percent to 17.5 percent under the old system.

At its current growth rate, China is expected to become the world’s 2nd largest movie market in a few years, with box office takings projected to top $5 billion by 2015. In North America, revenue has fallen for two years straight, and ended 2011 with $10.2 billion in ticket sales.

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., which produced “Kung Fu Panda,” said in February it’s tying up with three Chinese companies on a joint venture entertainment company that will make Chinese animated and live action content. Dreamworks will have a 45 percent stake in the venture, which is expected to begin operations in Shanghai later this year.

Legendary Entertainment, producer of hits including “The Dark Knight,””Inception” and the two “Hangover” installments, partnered with leading Chinese studio Huayi Brothers Media Corp. in June to form Legendary East. The venture plans one or two big budget movies a year starting in 2013 for global audiences that are also commercially viable in China. The films will be mainly in English and feature themes based on Chinese history, mythology or culture.

See also Hollywood Kowtows to China via CDT.


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